June 24, 2017
June 24, 2017
June 28, 2017
Intercultural Competence at the Intersection of Engineering and Study Abroad
Study abroad participation has exploded in higher education institutions with the percent of students in the United States who study abroad rising by just over five percent in a single academic year (NAFSA, 2016). American students majoring in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) fields represent the largest proportion of students studying abroad at nearly 23 percent, but compared to the 36 percent of all U.S. undergraduates who major in STEM fields, STEM students are still under-represented in study abroad (IIE, 2016). As popularity for study abroad programs has grown, the evidence for study abroad success has been questioned. Previous success metrics of study abroad programs focused on the number of students participating and students' self-reports of being “transformed”. Today’s metrics require successful study abroad programs to demonstrate students’ development of intercultural agility and competence (Vande Berg et al, 2012). Intercultural knowledge and competence is "a set of cognitive, affective, and behavioral skills and characteristics that support effective and appropriate interaction in a variety of cultural contexts" (Bennett, 2008).
As civil engineering graduates increasingly participate in the international engineering work force, competencies outlined in the Civil Engineering Body of Knowledge for the 21st Century (ASCE, 2008), such as globalization (analyzing engineering works and services in order to function at a basic level in a global context) and ABET Student Outcomes (ABET, 2014) requiring students to understand the impact of engineering solutions in a global, economic, environmental and societal context, may be significantly optimized by study abroad experiences.
How courses are structured is key to providing intercultural knowledge and competence. An engineering instructor's experience creating courses balancing intercultural knowledge and engineering content has only recently entered the body of knowledge on intercultural learning. This paper explores an engineering study abroad course as a case study in furthering the discussion. The research approach taken involves mixed methods with a nod to quantitative cultural competence measures and qualitative hermeneutic phenomenology, with qualitative results to follow. To delve into understanding the experience of the study abroad engineering student, the research question explored is, “To what extent may a short-term study abroad engineering course influence student intercultural competence?”
Besser, D., & George, C. M., & Kern, E. A., & Laleman, J. (2017, June), Board # 21 : Intercultural Competence at the Intersection of Engineering and Study Abroad Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. https://peer.asee.org/27807
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